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The Mark of an Authentic Leader

Heart image from istockphoto.com

Don’t you wish we could see through each person professing to be a leader?

Throughout our history, often unknowingly, we’ve allowed liars, thieves, cheaters, wimps, abusers of power and unscrupulous people to rule.

If it was only possible to discern who are authentic before we vote certain politicians into power, or before we place our trust on certain people and let them lead us, our world would certainly be a much better place. People who we vote to put in government, some people we put on pedestals and some of those who lead us at work betray our trust and expectations.

We’ve been victims of spin, propaganda, misinformation, manipulation, deception and treachery by our so-called leaders. They are so-called leaders because they are NOT authentic leaders. I’m beginning to think, though this is just my opinion, there are no good or bad leaders. Good leaders are authentic leaders. Bad leaders are only wannabes.

I acknowledge being a leader, a genuine leader, is not easy. Leading—be it a country, an organisation, a committee, a large group or a small team—is a tremendous responsibility. It’s hard work! Would-be leaders who want to lodge themselves in power, or current leaders who want to hold on to their position should do what they professed to do, and do what they were voted or hired to do. As the saying goes, if you can’t stand the heat – get out of the kitchen, for those who easily crack under the pressure.

I’ve certainly worked with and for wonderful leaders. I know authentic leaders are out there fulfilling roles that are rightfully theirs and some potential authentic leaders waiting in the wings. However, we also know there are crackpots, unethical or clueless people who, due to misrepresentation or, sometimes, luck, are currently in leadership roles who have no clue how to lead people in a genuine way.

Like the word love, leadership has no one, consistent definition. I’m still on the lookout for the best meaning as I haven’t found THE ONE. On the web, you’ll find that various meanings are attached to the word leadership, like position, roles, functions, styles, capabilities, principles, skills, characteristics, behaviours, qualities and essence.

Managing and leading, as you know, are two clearly different things. Changingminds.org says “managers focus on work; leaders focus on people” and that “managers have subordinates; leaders have followers”.

Being a good manager doesn’t automatically mean being a good leader. A good leader isn’t just being a boss or being a manager. Being a boss is a status, and being a good manager can be taught. However, being an authentic leader, it seems to me, and contrary to common wisdom, is born, not made. Whatever is the truth, one thing cannot be disputed: you have to have certain qualities, or essences as I prefer to call them, to be bestowed the honour of being called an authentic leader.

Authentic leadership is described by a respected spiritual teacher, Andrew Cohen as caring a lot about “a higher purpose, a higher principle, a higher goal that we are willing to make the most important sacrifices for the sake of what we are aspiring to accomplish. It means we care so passionately about others also reaching that goal that we unhesitatingly sacrifice our own peace of mind, comfort, and security in order for them to succeed.”

Leadership expert and author, Robin Sharma, says one can lead without a title. Joe Farcht, another author on leadership suggests building personal leadership precedes building organisational leadership. In my thinking, to be an organisational leader, you must first pass some tests. Once you pass and continue to embody the essences, then you receive the invisible stamp or mark of authentic leadership – the heart.

In my increasing quest to separate the wheat from the chaff of leaders, I hand-pick five essences of an authentic leader. I’ve only formed five because there is a set of traits “embedded” within each essence. If you’re missing any of these, I’d say learn or acquire them first, if it’s even possible, before you boldly attempt to take on a leadership role. I believe you don’t have to have leadership experience to be a successful leader. If you have the mark of a leader, then other essential qualities of a leader not embodied within these essences can be learned, acquired or honed before or while acting in your role.

I’d like to add that there is one extra and interesting characteristic that I have not included within the essences. If you have this or if you know how to use this, can not only help you but also those around you and those you lead. If used inappropriately, it could backfire, but if used effectively can help improve morale.

To be continued…

Disclaimer: I’m no expert on authentic leadership but I have a keen interest in this topic, as well as in personal leadership.

Put your Empathy where your Mouth Is

Suddenly, drastically, I’ve become a ‘meat shunner’.

A ‘meat lover’ all of my life, I’ve now become an ‘animal lover’.

It literally happened overnight after watching Earthlings, a one hour and a bit documentary about the cruel, callous and disrespectful way humans treat animals for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation (research) and sports.

This five-year old film touched me emotionally and intellectually.

The result: I can never look at fried chicken; roast lamb, beef or pork; a whopper burger, beef steak and other meat and seafood with hungry eyes ever again.

I resolved to change my eating habits and attempt to become a vegetarian, if not a vegan, after only 20 minutes into the film.

Aside from the horrific images, there were three things from the film that stood out for me. Mind you, these are not secret information or new revelations. We all know these but we haven’t taken this knowledge into our heart and mind:

1. Animals are creatures who have a right to co-exist with us on Earth, free from deprivation, torment, maltreatment, pain and suffering.

2. Animals are beings who ‘live, breathe, eat, play, show emotion, experience pain, hunger, thirst’ like humans.

3. Animals are pitifully, horrendously and mindlessly maltreated and killed long before they arrive at our table, on our plate and into our mouth.

Some claim Earthlings is just a propaganda tool. I think those who say this are missing the point. It’s clear that killing animals for food or for other uses, whether painlessly or otherwise; or killing or maltreating animals for fun or in the name of research is seriously barbaric, inhumane and primitive.

So out of my belated respect, empathy and compassion for my fellow ‘earthlings’, I’ve started eliminating all meat and meat products in my diet.

There are those who say the animal carnivores are more cruel toward other animals. Perhaps the animal carnivores have no choice but to kill their fellow animals as a source of food for survival. Humans, however, do have a choice and can make one.

What can you do?

The next time you take a bite of that suckling roast or barbequed meat, spare a thought at what the animal may have endured before reaching your plate as described in ‘Earthlings’:

• “branded on the face with red hot irons [cows]
• dehorned with pliers and tail docked [cows]
• ears clipped, teeth cut, castrated – without pain killers or anesthetics [piglets]
• de-beaked and hoisted upside down and throats slit to bleed [chickens]
• electrocuted [food and circus animals]
• burnt [pigs]
• beaten
• shot
• tied at the neck and kept restricted to keep muscles from developing [calves]
• shackled alive, suspended on a bleed wheel where their throats are slit and immersed in scalding tanks to remove their bristle, with many still struggling as they are dunked upside down where they are submerged and drowned [pigs]
• skinned alive for furs and all leather goods
• harpooned [whales].”

And for dolphins unlucky enough to get caught in the waters of Japan? Some are cut in half while still alive!

Excluding the whales and dolphins, these are factory farm animals. What do you think happen to strays or once-loved pets which are impounded? Some are packed very tightly in gas chambers and gassed as this method is less expensive than the quick and lethal but more humane method of injection.

For the love of animals, face the inconvenient truth: partaking a piece of animal flesh—albeit in sanitised, spiced, cooked, packaged or beautifully-presented form— is tantamount to being complicit in their continued deprivation, suffering, abuse and painful death by human hands.

I no longer want to take part, even indirectly, in this sadistic and disrespectful treatment of animals.

I now refuse to be a part of the meat industry’s continued existence. [Watch Earthlings, Sam!]

And this without fully knowing yet the meat industry’s role in climate change and on the damage to our environment, water and air.

I feel genuine pity to those whose livelihood involve killing or butchering animals. Get out of that hellhole called abattoirs or slaughterhouses. Surely, there is a better way to make a living.

We are thinking, compassionate and loving human beings. We have the power to spare the animals their lives. Let them die a natural death and not directly or indirectly through our hands.

In human hands, animals suffer in millions, daily, all over the planet. It’s time to stop creating hell on earth for animals.

Open your eyes, heart and mind.

It’s time to decide and choose: either you’re FOR the animals’ rights or AGAINST them.

As far as the animals are concerned, there is NO in between.

For more information, check out:

Animals Australia

Exposed: The long, cruel road to the slaughterhouse

Why Eating Meat is Like Butchering the Rainforest

Animal Visuals

James Adonis, who I thank for sharing the link to the video which led me to open my eyes to this long-ignored reality.

Lover and Loves

As part of my process of sharing my thoughts and of tackling love themes, here’s a just-for-fun, amateur poem about my loves and interests.

I am a LOVER of…

Words
I string them together as musings for my blog
Place them side by side
To play scrabble or Upwords

Non-fiction books
Magazines, blogs and e-news
Voraciously devouring
Every written thing I could

Fun
Like playful banters
Tongue-in-cheek jokes
Giggles and laughter

Food
I’ve got a sweet tooth
How else did you think
I ballooned?

A good drink
Guess what I’ll evoke
In the right atmosphere
It’s vodka and coke

Roulette
Winning big a few times
I won’t admit though
To losing a few dimes!

Music
Metal and rock classic
Singing my heart out
To my neighbours’ detriment

Philosophy
Often preoccupied with things of the mind
As deep meaning in life I seek
But the answers go over my head!

Life
Now seeing the world afresh
My new canvass is spread out
For me to colourfully illustrate.

P.S. I have other loves, of course!
I’ll share one of them with you in my next post, a more serious topic.

Unzipped

Once more with feeling…

istockphoto.com

[This was originally a guest post but have since got the rights back to publish in my blog. I thank Joe for allowing this.]

For those of us who desire to be more comfortable in our own skin but don’t have the courage to do so, writing is the next best thing.

Well-known author and poet, Paulo Coelho, tweets writing is a socially acceptable form of getting naked in public.

When I started my personal blog, a few people told me I was being brave. I didn’t realize it then, but they were really telling me I was needlessly exposing myself to the entire world.

For a nude prude like me, showing too much flesh doesn’t come naturally. So why the sudden disregard for modesty?

To answer that question, let’s compare how I see getting undressed to writing for blogs:

1. There is supposedly an art to undressing; while writing is definitely an art.

2. Unbuttoning your clothing is like uncovering your innermost thoughts so you can prepare to write.

3. Removing your top is like getting rid of unnecessary mental baggage and putting it on paper.

4. Unzipping your trousers or your skirt is like opening up yourself and your life, and risking being scrutinized.

5. Slowly removing your undergarments is like slowly stripping away self-consciousness and the fear of embarrassing yourself, as you risk being criticized.

6. As you dance to the music and strut while peeling off each layer of clothing, in writing you silently peel away your personas and reveal facets of your more authentic self that you don’t dare show many people, sometimes even those close to you.

7. Being naked makes you feel vulnerable; but so does writing and disclosing your secret life.

So what good does exposing figuratively and/or literally in public do for writers? Writing is liberating and therapeutic. In the right place, so is undressing and being naked.

I quite enjoy writing and wish I did it sooner. I’ve been laughing a lot, sometimes almost to tears, reminiscing funny incidents that have happened in my life. I’ve also cried my eyes out, though not too many times, remembering sad and painful moments that are best forgotten.

I highly recommend it, writing I mean. I can’t say the same for getting naked, but you’ll surely laugh yourself silly looking in the mirror and seeing how funny you appear. Either that or you’ll cry your heart out dwelling over real or imagined imperfections.

My life, little parts of it at least, is now an open book, or should I say an open blog. So in my husky voice I dare say, “Look at me in all my naked glory – moles, scars, warts and all!,” while I stumble as I strut in my red stiletto shoes and pretend to be comfortable writing my life away.

P.S. I don’t really have warts. 😛

Interesting reads:

Writing (by Paulo Coelho)
Art of Writing
Writing Naked

Conscious Acts of Love

istockphoto.com

A friend kindly shared this with me about her better half:

Every morning, when I come downstairs after getting ready for work, Gary has fed our bird, got our dog’s food ready, put bread in the toaster for me, or whatever I’m having at the time, and is eating his own breakfast.

On occasion, he will say I love you, and it’s always wonderful to hear it, but all these things he does, he does to say I love you!

* * *

Words of love are sometimes expressed far too casually. Acts of love is my preferred ‘default’ mode.

People somehow feel insecure when you don’t affirm your love through words and take for granted other deeper, meaningful ways you demonstrate it to them.

To people who know me but have never heard me tell them I love them, let me count the many other ways you can be reassured:

1. See it in my kindness and random displays of thoughtfulness.

2. Hear it in my giggles and laughter in my constant attempt and desire to amuse you or those times when I’m amused by you.

3. Smell it in my willingness to help, even in small or insignificant ways.

4. Taste it in my quiet and sometimes inaudible words of appreciation for every little or big thing you do.

5. Be touched by my support and encouragement (more often than not) for what your heart desires to do.

6. Accept it in my periods of generosity and little hint of selfishness.

7. ‘Get it’ in my deep reservoir of patience and appreciate not many are as patient.

8. Listen to the gentle way I speak, which others mistake for meekness.

9. Observe it in my being polite regardless of your status in life, and rare* outbursts of anger or rudeness.

10. Know it each time I give in and indulge you, even if it seems I do it more often than you.

11. Notice it in my tolerance of many things, even in those times I shouldn’t tolerate them.

12. Understand it in the absence of nagging, especially in those times you’d more appreciate silence.

13. Sense it in my being considerate and understanding, even if sometimes you don’t know why I do what I do.

14. Detect it in my instinct to tell the truth and be as honest as I possibly can.

15. Appreciate it in my sense of fair play and devoid of any thoughts to deceive or use you.

16. Feel the love in how I treat your loved ones and friends.

I could go on and on…

My point is love can be expressed in more ways than one. Words of love don’t guarantee true love. I ‘ooze’ love through these every day and sometimes deliberate actions. Acts of love, if done consistently and consciously, are more real and convincing.

I wish more people were like Gary in the quote above. No matter how often you say it, marry loving words with consistent loving actions.

These are my perspectives on love. What are yours?

* I’m lucky that only few people rub me the wrong way.

I Love You

istockphoto.com

There!

It’s easy to write it but many find it difficult to say – not the least me.

I love you.

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Easy!

Copy and paste.

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

So easy.

I may be one of the remaining few who considers LOVE a sacred word.

‘I Love You’, even more sacred.

Love is not to be uttered willy-nilly.

I’m a generous person but when it comes to spoken expressions of love, I’m stingy.

The words don’t come freely out of my mouth, unless I mean it, truly feel it… at that moment.

I don’t write it, only to cross it out.

I don’t give it, only to take it back and forever.

I don’t say it, only to retract or to pussyfoot around it.

I don’t claim to have it and then I disappear or turn my attention to someone else.

I may turn mute when it comes to expressing love but one clear thing I do though is to show love in action.

My next post will show you how I ‘ooze’ love—everyday—if only you learn to read the signs, most of them non-verbal.

Love spoken but not often showed is not a lot better than unspoken love but showed often. Me thinks.

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Love is a Paradox

I must have gotten up from the wrong side of the bed, or perhaps it was the right side – you decide. I had a sudden thought to blog about a paradox.

This is an easy yet difficult subject, which only a few have mastered.

A subject that is simple, yet so complex.

I, myself, at this ripe old age of, well, old, is an inexperienced student and still learning.

I’m talking about LOVE.

istockphoto.com

There is the romantic, the familial, the neighbourly love…

There is the love for God, for friends, for pets…

Then there is universal love which is all-embracing and signifying unconditional love for all…

And there is self love.

There is no single, universally-accepted definition of love. Love is described in many various ways by very many people.

Is it just me or am I missing something? Is love an enigma?

Those who profess to know the full meaning of the word LOVE, speak.

Love is a word that begs to be defined succinctly.

Love is one powerful, emotion-evoking, all-encompassing word.

Love is most longed for, most dreamed about and most-sought after.

But we all know love is also misunderstood, misused and abused.

So do you really know what love is and what love is not?

Help me answer my questions.

Help me understand love and all its complexities.

Recognise love where I think I see falsity;

See love when it seems none exists;

Find love where it may hide.

[This is the first of many posts about this love-ing feeling.]

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[British/Australian spelling used.]

Wherefore Art Thou, Florentino?

This blog is to close the chapter of my ‘F’ story. One person, at least, is curious to know what happened to Florentino.

I wasn’t part of the elite group that Florentino and the girls who surrounded him belonged to. They were the smart ones but, Florentino, as I mentioned, was the top student of the class.

My class standing in first grade was average (story of my school life, really). Mrs Lavastida, somehow, managed to lure me occasionally out of my shell.

One day, Mrs Lavastida decided to pit one student against another, to see who could read well in English and fast. Being secretly competitive, I wanted to impress everyone, most especially Florentino.

I raised my hand. I knew I could beat those slow ones! Mrs Lavastida kept ignoring me, however, and called everyone else except me. And the later the lines of text to read, the harder they got, at least for a first grader.

It seemed my hand was raised forever when, finally, my teacher noticed me. She called my name and I eagerly stood up. As I was checking out the next sentence to read to give myself a head start, guess who she decided to pit against me??

She could have called one of those who, after a few lessons, still couldn’t read. But, noooo, she had to pick Florentino!!

Florentino already had his turn and it dismayed me that she called him again. Discouraged even before we started reading, I knew it was a lost cause. I was only halfway and struggling through my line, and Florentino had stood up, read his sentence lightning quick, sat back on his chair and bowed his head, perhaps to try and look magnanimous.

Any fantasy I had of impressing him and getting his attention away from the bevies of cute little girls who liked him, went down the drain.

Later on, it occurred to me that I had no chance to compete with the smart kids in that class. Most of them went through nursery and kindergarten, which meant they started school a year or so before me. They were well ahead of me.

Out of my girl classmates, only two stood out for me and I still clearly remember them: Anna and Irene.

Anna was the smartest girl in the class. She wasn’t what you’d call beautiful, but she was pretty and well-groomed. She belonged to the long list of girls who liked Florentino.

Irene, on the other hand, was my neighbour. She was pretty too. Dark with short hair, she lived in the same complex where I temporarily stayed. She belonged to the second list of girls who were indifferent to Florentino. But, if you read my previous blog post about Florentino, I was on both lists, right?

As a six year old, this is how I saw and assessed the situation:

Try as Anna might, Florentino only had eyes for Irene. But, Irene, as much as I liked her was, I suspected, a tomboy. Not that there is anything wrong with that! It’s just that poor Florentino had no idea. I noticed Irene was the only one he was very friendly with and kidded around with her a lot.

I don’t know if Irene turned out to be a real tomboy or if she outgrew her tomboy phase. I don’t know what became of her and Florentino. Sometimes, I wonder what became of my first grade classmates.

As fate would have it, my parents found a new place for us to stay, farther from my very first school but closer to another school, a public school. It was also farther and away from Florentino… forever.

Next post: A Paradox

Losing My Religion (4 of 5)

Image from istockphoto.com

The saga continues…

For this instalment, let’s cut to the chase and let’s make it brief.

I’m sure many expects this to appear in my list and it does. It’s my reason number:

3. the sexual abuse perpetrated and perpetuated by priests eventually got to me.

I won’t repeat what we’ve already heard so many times in the media (since the 1980s), but I’ll briefly explain why this had a bearing in my disenchantment with religion.

In the beginning, although I felt horrified when this news first broke out, I was espousing forgiveness. I also realised priests, after all, can be fallible human beings, susceptible to temptations.

When allegations after allegations of sexual misconduct reverberated around the world, some of them reportedly proven true, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the way these abuses were dealt with.

I’ve recently read a report where the church is trying to blame the priests’ sexual misconduct on homosexuality. A psychologist who specialises in treating sexually-abused children says homosexuality is not the same as pedophilia. The difference is that a person who is sexually attracted to children (regardless of sex) is a pedophile. And pedophilia, according to Wikipedia, is a psychiatric disorder. Pedophilia is also a crime against children.

Let’s remember that not all of these allegations are substantiated and credible. However, granted that, at one time, it’s “only” supposedly about 4% of the entire priesthood (active at the time) who have allegedly committed this crime, it’s 4% too many. I say there should be zero tolerance on pedophilia, especially those committed by people who should know better—those who made teaching people not to “sin” their vocation.

You could say the number of perpetrators are insignificant compared to the total number of priesthood. Well, tell that to the victims and their families. To subject their victims to pain, trauma, shame, depression, maybe even suicidal thoughts, and God knows what other harrowing emotions victims of this type of abuse go through, is the most unkind act of those we least expect to commit this.

Equally sharing the blame are the top brass in the church’s hierarchy who exercise their power in some countries to prevent the poor access to birth control but are impotent in preventing, if not stopping, and tackling this long-term issue head on.

Why would I let a “minority” of offenders turn me off religion? The churches’ leaders’ failure to decisively address and put a stop or at least prevent these abuses leave much to be desired and added to my growing belief that there is no such thing as “one true religion”.

I’ve removed hatred, vindictiveness, revengefulness and other extremely negative traits from my heart (not an easy thing to do for a Scorpio). So I’m not going to condemn those perpetrators to hell or demand that they be jailed for life or wish capital punishment on them.

It doesn’t mean though that I should continue listening to them.

Note: Search online and you’ll see it’s obviously not only priests from the Catholic Church who commit sexual abuse of children but also, it’s alleged, from other Christian denominations, as well as from other religions.

Final instalment: The “mother” of all reasons.

Next topic: [I’m back in my childhood…]

The Heart of the Matter

Image from istockphoto.com

I plonk on a seat on the train next to a window, where I could sit comfortably and read a book.

The train ride to my first stop is about 45 minutes. It’s peak hour and it’s all stops. This is going to be a long but enjoyable ride, or so I thought.

Halfway through the first page, I heard a man belch loudly. I moved my face sideways, not quite looking at where the sound was coming from. A hint of annoyance could be read from that slight movement of my head.

Shortly after, I could hear someone murmuring from behind me. Deaf from the usual noise when reading a book, I ignored it. I first learned to read in English before I learned to read in my own language, but at this very moment, as I go through lines after lines of English words, I couldn’t read a word. I thought the book is hard to read, but those damn racist remarks won’t stop barging in my head.

I Turned Dyslexic and Everyone Became Deaf

I closed the book and sighed. Cruel words incessantly try and invade my hearing space. Something about Asians, Asians taking over their jobs, how they shouldn’t be in this country. Oh, here we go, I thought, and rolled my eyes. Not quite dark outside, I looked out the glass window as the train hisses past buildings and trees, but not really seeing anything.

The train was filled with all sorts of people. Everyone was minding their own business, busy with their own thoughts, their own reading and, like me, pretending they weren’t hearing anything.

I decided to continue ignoring this man’s ramblings about Asians to no one in particular. Maybe it will stop and he will tire of it, run out of words to say or reach his train station soon.

Leafing through another page, and on and on the man continued. I stole a quick glance over my shoulder, and I saw the man is standing on the aisle, holding a bottle of beer.

As I attempt to correct my sudden-onset dyslexia, it was becoming obvious the man talking loudly on the train had zeroed in on a ”lucky” someone. Slowly, it dawned on me, that someone was me! The man, the harasser, was talking to me all along.

Very Cheeky and Pushing It

Indirectly, he told me to vacate my seat because, he said, I didn’t deserve it. He wanted me to give up my seat to an elderly Anglo-Australian who I didn’t see was standing next to him. The elderly Anglo-Australian giggled and nodded in agreement to what the harasser said. Under a different circumstance, on my own accord, I would have offered my seat to any elderly person. The harasser explained to a non-Asian female passenger, who clearly looked scared, that he hated Asians because Asians took over jobs meant for Australians.

Encumbered with all the stuff I had with me, including a box of birthday cake, I restrained myself from engaging in a potentially messy, chocolate-mud-cake fight. For a while, I vacillitated between wasting A$20 (at that time) worth of cake to smash it across the man’s racist face or to just ignore him as best I could and not to stoop down to his level. In the end, I chose the latter.

Not content with throwing insults in my direction, the harasser blocked my way when I tried to get off the train. With my hands and arms full of stuff, I couldn’t shove him off so I could get out before the train moved. I missed my station as a result. As the train started to move, I screamed out loud to his face: ”YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE!”

No other words were necessary. I thought that was the heart of the matter—he was just being exactly as I described him. There was no need to explain or reason out to him, nor was there any need to expend any energy to try and enlighten him.

He shrugged his shoulder. ‘I hate Asians’, he said, and walked away.

For two months, I was paranoid. I would sit at the farthest back of the train thinking I’d rather have my enemy in front of me where I can see them, than behind me.

Questioning My Own Willingness to Help Others

Would I have helped if it was someone else who was being harassed instead of me? I’d like to think, if it was clear there was someone being victimised and this person appeared helpless, that I would have. My ”Beautiful Serpent”, as author, poet and blogger Ed Pilolla beautifully calls it, rears its ugly head from time to time, and can sometimes be a bit fearless.

I thought about it for a long time. None of the passengers in the crowded train uttered a word. No one bothered to report it to a train guard on my behalf. They were either indifferent or too scared to help. They say there is strength in numbers but, even against an averaged-built man, no one dared to raise their voice. I guess, if I wasn’t saying anything, why would they?

Later that night, as I took a bite of a piece of the chocolate cake that almost never was, I shudder at the thought that people’s deafening silence and pathetic lack of courage to come to my rescue was because they had the same deep-seated fear as the ignorant man.

If you were in my shoes, what would you have done?

If you were one of the passengers, would you have lifted a finger to help a stranger being harassed?

As always, I welcome and appreciate your comments.

Read related articles:
The Racist Workplace by James Adonis
End Racism

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A Lone Voice

Dear old and new friends, welcome to my first ever blog.

From years of listening, watching, observing, reading, introspecting, remembering and endless daydreaming, come thoughts, opinions, conclusions, judgments and beliefs. This blog will be my platform for expressing my voice—a lone voice. No longer content to remain and watch from the sidelines, my backside (see ‘Moi – Warts, Backside and All’ page) is sore from sitting on the fence too long. 🙂

From that tiny seed of encouragement over 15 years ago that I should write, from an old friend called Niamh, I’ve progressed from a frustrated writer to… a budding writer. Yes, the progression has been at a snail’s pace but I finally got here one snail-pace step at a time.

It might take you forever to get to your destination and you may move yourself one inch at a time if you want to, but you have to make that first move. To get to where you want to be, you have to, at the very least, stir. It’s like playing a game of chess. The game can’t begin until the first player, no matter how slow, makes the first move.

If I’ve satisfied you with my excuse for taking almost two decades to do what I’ve been wanting to do, then I’m happy. Who knows where this game of words will take me, but I hope you’ll join me for the ride. I may have started slowly but now I’m raring to go. With renewed courage and a chunk of craziness for throwing caution to the wind, my itchy feet are ready to hitch a ride on a bullet slow train to becoming a fully-fledged writer.

This is not to say I won’t ever go back there, to sit on the fence. I enjoy it there, often smiling in bemusement and at other times indifferent, quietly watching the dramas unfold around me. I don’t and won’t always take sides but I will offer my two cents. I have feelings and opinions unexpressed, and memories and points of view unshared, biding my time until the spirit moved me to write them down and share them with you.

If any of the future topics I discuss make you feel happy, sad, surprised, amused, shocked, irked or cause any form of reaction, I’d be happy to hear… your voice… and share what you feel.

I work full-time and have other activities that occupy my time and mind but, from this point on, I’ll endeavour to write as often as I can.

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